Worcester Regional Transit Authority

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WRTA plays a role in the Eighth APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHILADELPHIA _ Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) Administrator Stephen O’Neil, along with Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) Transportation Program Manager Mary Ellen Blunt, and CMRPC Project Manager Jonathan Church recently presented at the Eighth Annual American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop held August 5-8, 2012 in Philadelphia.

This year’s event focused on the connection between sustainability and the state of good repair, and how creative partnerships are being developed to help advance these objectives.

O’Neil was part of a panel that included Matthew Lesh, Federal Transit Administration; Stephanie Shipp, Metro Light Rail, Phoenix, AZ; Joshua Goldman, Proterra, Inc.; and Joel Rinebold, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc.

O’Neil focused his presentation on how new vehicles and “ITS” (the application of integrated information and communications technologies to infrastructure and vehicles in order to improve safety and better manager travel and travel choices) technologies achieve a sustainable state of good repair.

“Now, working with our invaluable partner TransSystems, the WRTA has nearly completed the installation of a full suite of new technologies,” O’Neil said.

He cited examples of services recently implement at the WRTA, which include:

• Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)
• Automated Vehicle Announcements (AVA)
• Automated Passenger Counters (APC)
• Automated Vehicle Monitoring (AVM) – under contract with Clever Devices
• Dynamic Message Signs (DMS)
• Traffic Signal Priority (TSP)
• Fuel Management System (FMS)

“These new technologies are expected to improve both maintenance and operational aspects of the WRTA service,” O’Neil said.

Funding for these services, in addition to the upgrading of its fixed route fleet, came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and state capitol funding. Currently, of the 46 buses in the WRTA fleet, all have been or will be replaced with clean diesel or hybrid diesel buses by FY 2014. This has been an ongoing project since 2008.

“The most significant benefit of this new fleet is the improved fuel efficiency and mechanical reliability,” O’Neil stated. “Fuel efficiency has improved by 41 percent since 2010.”

In addition to O’Neil’s presentation, Mary Ellen Blunt and Jonathan Church were part of a panel that included G. J. LaBonty, strategic planner, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT; Darren Buck, transportation program specialist, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C., which was moderated by Cynthia Hoyle, FAICP, LCI, transportation planner, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL.

Blunt and Church discussed how the WRTA’s new Transfer Hub at Union Station has contributed to the successful redevelopment of downtown Worcester. They noted that since 2008, the WRTA has been working on a transit system that is leaner and more efficient. By 2009, the WRTA had repositioned itself with a new image and new initiative, as well as increased ridership. On April 3, 2012, the WRTA broke ground on the new Transfer Hub, with the project expected to be completed in March 2013. Once the Transfer Hub is completed, it will be an intermodal hub that will enable all WRTA passengers to make connections to the other transportation modes housed at Union Station.

“The workshop was well attended by a multitude of transit industry operators/authorities; planners; consultants; federal, state and local officials; transit industry publication editors; and energy providers,” Church said. “This was an excellent opportunity to network with other people in the transit industry that we would normally not make contact with.”

“This was a terrific event that gave us the opportunity to let others know what we were doing, and we got to hear and discuss what other transit authorities in the country were also doing. It was quite informative,” O’Neil added.

For more information on APTA, visit www.apta.org.

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